City of Westfield is $271,000 over budget in legal fees


The Westfield City Council couldn’t get through the claims docket at the top of its agenda without arguing at its Aug. 23 meeting. The argument culminated in a city official claiming the city was more than $271,000 over budget in legal fees.

CIW COM 0121 budget presentations Troy Patton

Prior to the claims docket, councilor Troy Patton asked to see what Taft, Stettinius and Hollister, the firm representing the city, charges. Specifically, Patton said he wanted to see what the city was billed for “suing people.” 

Patton then asked the city what it’s budgeted legal fees are and what it’s paid so far this year. An argument between Westfield Mayor Andy Cook and Patton culminated in Patton asking Cook to name the dollar amount the city has spent, and Cook could not. Then, the city’s chief of staff Todd Burtron said the city was more than $271,000 over the annual $652,000 budget for legal fees. The legal fees budget is used for litigation and matters outside of the normal retainer fee.  

Patton said the city’s finance committee would take a deeper look into the city’s budget during its 1 p.m. Aug. 24 meeting.

Andy Cook
Mayor Andy Cook

During the claims docket, Council President Mike Johns said he was concerned about the timeliness of invoices from law firms. Johns has expressed similar concerns in the past. 

“The attorney invoices appearing on the docket today are for March, April and May, so we are just now receiving invoices (for June and July),” Johns said before asking if the attorneys could “speed up the invoice process.” 

The council then approved the claims docket, excluding legal fees outside of the regular retainer until the council could look at the claims further. 

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